Kristen Buras, a professor at Georgia State University who recently published a book about “education reform” in New Orleans, here warns the people of Nashville not to copy the New Orleans model.

 

This is what happened in New Orleans, according to Buras:

 

 

The attempt to turn around neighborhood schools by closing them and opening charters caused greater harm than Hurricane Katrina. I fear the same destructive “reforms” will strike Nashville.

In 2005, Louisiana’s state-run Recovery School District (RSD) assumed control of most public schools in New Orleans and handed them over for private management and profit making by “nonprofit” charter school operators.

Experienced veteran teachers in New Orleans were unlawfully fired and replaced by transient, inexperienced recruits from beyond the city, with most departing after two years. Teach For America stood ready to supply new teachers. Most of all, it stood to profit.

Neighborhood schools were closed without genuine community input. Meanwhile, charter school operators have paid themselves six-figure salaries, used public money without transparency and appointed unelected boards to govern the schools.

Community members have filed civil rights lawsuits, including one by Southern Poverty Law Center alleging thousands of disabled children were denied access to schools and federally mandated services in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Moreover, there are charter schools in New Orleans with out-of-school suspension rates approximating 70 percent.

Charter school operators in New Orleans do not care about children — they care about making money. They do not want to serve children who are “expensive” or may compromise the business venture.

 

It is the same story in city after city that takes New Orleans as its model.

 

Good news about Buras’ book: Originally published in hardcover for $125, it is now available in softcover for $43. It is a must-read to learn about what happened in New Orleans from the perspective of families and students, not entrepreneurs and politicians.